Chucho Valdés and The Afro-Cuban Messengers, at the Palau de la Música Catalana in Barcelona (photo: Lorenzo di Nozzi)
By Larry Blumenfeld (Arts Journal)
I've been back from Barcelona for more than a week, but it seems like yesterday.
If Barcelona is one of the world's most alluring cities--and it is--its Voll-Damm International Jazz Festival must be counted as one of the world's most distinctive and complete jazz events.
The audacious architectural achievements of Gaudí, the searching experimentalism of early works at the Picasso Museum, and the unexpected culinary inventions (what, for instance, Catalan chef Isma Prados can do with tomatoes, strawberries, and sardines) all figure into a novel context for great and adventurous music, and for concert-going in general. The "tenderness sutras," as he calls them, offered by saxophonist Charles Lloyd and his terrific quartet seemed especially radiant there, and both the intimacy and the ostentation of Cuban pianist Chucho Valdés's music were perfectly matched by his setting, the Palau de Música. Not to mention the graciousness of artistic director Joan Anton Cararach, a former music critic himself, his exceedingly lovely wife, Doan Manfugas, whose deeply felt ideas about music owe to her early training in Havana's finest conservatories, and the suave General Director Tito Ramoneda, whose dream of a cultural event linking his city with both New York and Rio de Janeiro seems just crazy enough to work.
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